From: clayton stirling bartholomew (
Date: Sun Oct 04 1998 - 02:06:04 EDT

Steven Cox wrote:
> ...poor Yorick I knew him well :-)
>the question is re. BAGD which
> gives "fertilizer" as one possible meaning of ALAS.
> This is not supported by LSJ or as far as I can see
> any papyri. Or indeed by common sense. Does
> anyone have a contemporary source that would
> confirm this?


As far as I can tell the sense "fertilizer" for ALAS is nothing more than a
conjecture about the use of the word in Matt 5:13. I checked S.C. Woodhouse
for "fertilizer" and he lists one word PIASMA. But a little checking on this
word finds that it means to make fat. And the reference (AEsch., Pers. 806) he
uses is to a river that makes the land fat. So it isn't really a word for
fertilizer in the sense that we would use that term.

BAGD, Thayer and NIDNTT all mention "fertilizer" as a possible or probable
sense of ALAS in Matt. 5:13. NIDNTT has a one line statement to the effect
that a light application of salt was considered beneficial for increasing the
fertility of the land. However, no references are cited to substantiate this
suggestion from a written source. Sorry Colin Brown; no citation, no cigar.

The sources I checked include: Cunliffe, *TDNT, BAGD, *Spicq, MM, NIDNTT,
Thayer, LSJ, Woodhouse, *EDNT, *Cremer, Louw & Nida, Lust(LXX), Pring. Sources
with asterisk didn't have an entry for ALAS.

Clayton Stirling Bartholomew
Three Tree Point
P.O. Box 255 Seahurst WA 98062

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